- Where did the myth about the link between vaccines and autism come from?
- Vaccine autism as a result of falsified research results
- Why didn't Wakefield decide to repeat vaccine autism research?
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The myth about the link between vaccines and autism has been around for a long time. It is hard to believe that the origins of the theory of post-vaccination autism lie in one false publication from 1998 in the scientific journal "The Lancet". The author of this myth was an unknown surgeon - scientist Dr. Andrew Wakefield.
The causes of autism are not fully understood, and it usually appears between 18 and 24 months of age. This time coincides with the administration of the MMR vaccine (measles, mumps, and rubella), so Wakefield's false theory of post-vaccination autism may initially seem plausible. Today, after dozens of studies verifying this relationship, it has finally been confirmed that there is no doubt that vaccines have nothing to do with autism.
Where did the myth about the link between vaccines and autism come from?
So how did the false belief about the existence of post-vaccination autism spread, and why until today vaccine opponents refer to these false arguments?
For the backstage, go back to 1995, when Andrew Wakefield of the Royal Free Medical School in London began working to prove the link between the MMR vaccine and Crohn's disease. Already at this stage, Wakefield's research was sponsored by the JABS organization, which brings together parents who want to sue pharmaceutical companies for compensation for diseases allegedly caused by vaccines. This fact was the first sign that Wakefield was trying to align his research with preconceived theses.
Autism is a holistic development disorder that manifests itself as a malfunction in all areas of development, incl. impaired communication skills and lack of interaction with society.
Vaccine autism as a result of falsified research results
The first patients for the study were referred by the same sponsoring organization, and the thesis about the link between vaccines and Crohn's disease was ready seven months before the first child underwent any tests. It should be noted that the group subjected to the study was not reliable - only 12 children were tested in total, of which as many as 5 showed various disturbing neurological symptoms and problems before vaccination.with he alth, incl. developmental delays.
Additionally, Wakefield began to falsify evidence at an early stage of its work. He misrepresented the facts, for example, the mother of one of the children informed him that the disturbing symptoms in the child started to appear 6 months after the vaccination, and Wakefield wrote that it had already happened 6 days after the vaccination. There were many similar deliberate shortcomings in his work. Wakefield claimed, for example, that 12 children had autism, and in fact only one of them had autism.
Most importantly, Wakefield also faked the results of his research: after examining excerpts from the children's intestines, he manipulated the descriptions, for example, a case of no changes found, he described as "non-specific inflammation." A few years later, after another examination of the samples, it turned out that such statements were completely unfounded, as there were no disturbing changes in the collected samples.
Why didn't Wakefield decide to repeat vaccine autism research?
After his research failed to show a link between vaccination and Crohn's disease, Wakefield modified his hypothesis to announce that he had discovered a new disease syndrome linking bowel disease to autism. In his opinion, the syndrome was caused by the administration of the MMR vaccine.
The publication of the article in the prestigious journal "The Lancet" sparked media attention and brought A. Wakefield popularity among anti-vaccination movements. Wakefield, taking advantage of the undermined trust in publicly available vaccines, planned to start producing immunological drugs and a new, supposedly better measles vaccine. Wakefield's business plans failed as he found no sponsors. Since then, the researcher has started spreading rumors of a conspiracy theory that an attempt was made to prevent his further publication.
Over time, the scientific community began to discover the truth behind Wakefield's counterfeits about vaccine autism. It has been proven that the tests were carried out unfairly and without proper control, and the conclusions were false. After many years, the rebuttal of Wakefield's theses was supported by a court ruling which deprived him of the right to practice for fraud and breach of professional ethics.
Wakefied disqualified from practicing as a doctor
Following the trial, to prevent the spread of false information, The Lancet magazine decided to remove the deceptive publication from its archives. The lawsuit lasted many years and despite proven fraud, Wakefield's publication for a long time had the effect of undermining confidence invaccinations.
Wakefield never decided to repeat his research despite receiving grants. He also never addressed any of the allegations. His research has been repeated many times by many scientists around the world.No reliable sources have ever confirmed his theory.Important
The length of the trial and the late response of The Lancet resulted in the spread of the autism vaccine myth for many years. Perhaps that is why, despite the complete refutation of Wakefield's theses, the myth he created about the harmfulness of vaccinations persists until today.